The ‘Haidt’ of privileged opinion

22 October 2019

Scribe staff

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Is it considered coddling for human beings to have empathy?

Johnathan Haidt, an American psychologist, professor and author, has an opinionated viewpoint on the state Generation Z’s mental health and predicts the future of our culture being very bleak if we do not adopt ‘antifragility.’ A term created to devalue traits like sensitivity, empathy and self-awareness.

On Oct. 16, Haidt spoke on the topic of his book, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” at UCCS. The forum and lecture focused on the “Three Terrible Ideas” or “Untruths” that are making it hard for people to become fully functioning adults in society: their feelings are always right, they should avoid pain and discomfort and they should look for faults in others.

Haidt’s book, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind” is based on “How Bad Ideas and Good Intentions are Setting a Generation up for failure.”

Many of Haidt’s claims use cherry-picked data and ignores evidence that is relevant because it does not fit his narrative. Instead of looking at common experiences, he looks at ones that are the most sensationalized and treats them as the cause for all social ills. Haidt claims that microaggressions, safe spaces and trigger warnings are some of the things contributing to the dire state of mental health issues stemming from the younger generations.

In his speech he gave on campus, he contradicts many of his claims, such as recommending that parents do not coddle their children, but then stating that parents should have a rule of “all screens out of the bedroom by a set time, not have social media until high school and agree on a time budget,” to promote healthy tech norms. If parents are supposed to be more trusting of their children and not constantly dictate all their actions, then how is this not also another example of an older generation coddling a younger one?

Haidt is side-stepping the roots of psychological discipline and, in doing so, is sustaining the white-patriarchal system.